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Sleep Apnea: The Market Behind the Mask

This article was originally published in Start Up

Executive Summary

Sleep is getting a lot of attention in the clinical community these days, and in particular, interrupted sleep. The obstructive sleep apnea market for treatment, monitoring and diagnostic products is forecast to grow at an almost 13% compound annual growth rate through the year 2010 based on only incremental changes to existing diagnostic and treatment modalities, according to "US Markets for Blood Gas/Electrolyte Monitoring, Pulmonary Function Assessment, and Sleep Apnea Management Products," published in December 2005 by Medtech Insight. But the field is beginning to see an influx of new kinds of treatments from both the medical device and pharmaceutical industries as well.

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Sleep Apnea Devices: The Changing Of The Guard

The current specialty-dominated care paradigm for sleep apnea can't scale-up to meet the demands of an enormous and serious chronic disease. New companies help move diagnosis and treatment to the physicians that see patients first.

ImThera Medical Inc.

Although more than 20 million people in the US are affected by obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), the standard of care for the disorder--a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine applied at bedtime with a nasal or facial mask to keep airways propped open--carries a noncompliance rate of almost 50%. ImThera Medical Inc. is developing a new implantable neurostimulation device that stimulates certain tongue muscles during sleep to open the upper airway and potentially help patients who are unable or unwilling to use CPAP or pursue surgical alternatives.

Sleep Apnea: A High Growth Device Market Awakens

There's a reason why Philips paid $5 billion and a premium to buy Respironics. Sleep apnea is an enormous emerging opportunity: in the US, 38 million patients have the disease, and there are compelling clinical reasons to treat them. That's big business for device companies, if only they can access patients and establish new referral patterns in a highly fragmented market.

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